Boeing, Northrop Test Fire Megawatt Laser

Discussion in 'Architecture & Engineering' started by kmguru, Sep 10, 2008.

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  1. kmguru Staff Member

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    Boeing, Northrop Test Fire Megawatt Laser
    Plane maker and industry partners successfully fired the high-energy, chemical laser, proving that it will be capable of destroying a missile in flight.

    On Sunday, prime contractor Boeing and its partner Northrop Grumman, which designed and built the megawatt laser for the airborne laser aircraft, successfully fired the laser during a ground testing at Edwards Air Force Base in California -- proving that the laser will be capable of destroying a missile in flight.

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  3. Mr. Hamtastic whackawhackado! Registered Senior Member

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    So, why are they only planning to use the thing on missiles? I'm sure it takes far less time to burn through an airplane, or series of airplanes. Then there's static and near-static targets. Or does the government want to keep everyone feeling safe and secure that they are not pursuing potentially offensive weapons? Silliness.
     
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  5. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    Then all that anyone needs do is coat the missile with reflective film to reflect the laser. Also the laser is only good for a certain distance, say about a mile or so, if that.
     
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  7. Walter L. Wagner Cosmic Truth Seeker Valued Senior Member

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    An amazing 'defensive' weapon.
     
  8. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    How can it be so amazing if it only has a range of less than one mile? Also where do you get all the power needed to make this thing work?
     
  9. Echo3Romeo One man wolfpack Registered Senior Member

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    A laser weapon's primary advantage is that its time of flight is effectively zero and it is not affected by gravity, which eliminates the need to adjust for windage and elevation against a given target. This makes lasers with high specific output a natural choice for intercepting fast moving things like missiles, artillery rounds, mortars, and rockets. On top of which, those targets tend to be fairly fragile and carrying volatile payloads, so it doesn't have to deposit a hell of a lot of energy on the target to get a mission kill.

    This aircraft is designed for defense against TBMs only, and maybe ICBMs in certain favorable conditions. The Air Force's version of the F-35 will be getting a solid state laser in place of where the lift fan goes for use against other airborne targets. So, don't worry, you'll see lasers being used for other stuff soon enough.

    No and no. At the energy levels being used, reflective coatings would not be very effective. Even if only a fraction of the beam's energy was first absorbed by the target, heating would decrease reflectivity leading to a runaway heating effect and a mission kill in not a lot of time. Also it would be next to impossible to keep a missile clean and polished enough to reflect so much energy that it would be immune to attack. A better countermeasure might be a heat shield or ablative coating as used for vehicles setup for atmospheric reentry, but covering a ballistic missile with that kind of stuff would add significant weight and thereby severely reduce its range.

    For the second part, the ABL will operate above 40,000' AMSL where the air is thin, dry, and clear. In those conditions the beam will propagate for hundreds of miles. And as far as a power source goes, remember the ABL uses a chemical laser. It requires electricity to operate the pumps and the fire control system, but actual beam power (as you are asking about) comes from the onboard fuel tanks.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2008
  10. nietzschefan Thread Killer Valued Senior Member

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    Steve Jackson should get an award or something for all his predictions in the 1980s and 90s:
     
  11. Echo3Romeo One man wolfpack Registered Senior Member

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    Haha, which one was that from?
     
  12. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    I'll bet that the cost of this system is very expensive. I wonder if a anti missile missile would be allot cheaper to send up against incoming missiles? That megawatt laser sounds very complex as well and takes up allot of space.
     
  13. Mr. Hamtastic whackawhackado! Registered Senior Member

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    ct-If this is a one-shot weapon, then yes, it's hideously expensive. I suspect, however that it is meant to be used up to hundreds of times.
     
  14. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, it's a one-shot weapon - for NOW. It's also the first of it's kind and is being used ONLY to demonstrate that it's feasible. There will be many more versions to follow - including multi-shot at some stage of the game.

    Rome wasn't built in a single day either.
     
  15. Echo3Romeo One man wolfpack Registered Senior Member

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    hay guys look what I found on wiki:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airborne_Laser
     
  16. kmguru Staff Member

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    I wonder why we do not have a ground based high power laser in a laser in a laser type configuration that vaporizes cloud cover to punch a hole through so that the primary laser can do the job? Just a thought...not sure it will work....but if you have enough power.....or multiple lasers firing at the same point, should not that work? Like 10 MW of ebergy to a single point?
     
  17. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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  18. nietzschefan Thread Killer Valued Senior Member

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  19. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    Because the distance at which these lasers are effective is only a mile or less.
     
  20. Echo3Romeo One man wolfpack Registered Senior Member

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    For the second time, this just isn't accurate. Laser weapons near sea level have had very limited ranges (e.g MTHEL - several km) but this is due to air thickness, impurities, humidity, and turbidity - four factors that are not nearly as significant at 40,000 feet. Hell, it says on the Wikipedia page that the engagement envelope will be larger by two orders of magnitude:
    I suspect you are confusing the ground-based system with the airborne one.
     
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